PHILADELPHIA, March 19, 2002 — More than $200 million in capital projects are planned for PECO Energy’s electric and natural gas system in 2002, what the company calls “a strategic investment” to ensure service reliability for customers.
PECO’s capital plan this year is its largest ever with the substantial spending intended to upgrade equipment, to expand capacity to meet increasing energy usage in certain communities, and improve reliability in targeted areas. PECO said it constantly tracks the number and causes of trouble cases on its system, the interruption frequency per customer, the duration of outages, and customers who experience repeat interruptions.
On its electric system, PECO said the number of incidents affecting service to customers last year was nine percent lower than the average of the previous five years and the number of customers affected by interruptions during 2001 was four percent less than the same time period. On average, a PECO customer may experience just over one service interruption per year. The improved electric reliability was attributed to aggressive maintenance programs, effective tree trimming, strategic investments, and less storm activity.
A performance area with even greater improvement last year was the reduced duration of outages when customers experienced a service interruption. In 2001, the company reduced the average outage duration (73 minutes) by 10 minutes, or 12 percent, compared with the prior year and 18 percent better than the average of the previous five years.
Denis O’Brien, PECO vice president, Operations, said, “We’ve set out on a wide-ranging and aggressive five-year program that will ensure we can serve our customers well in the years ahead. It is a substantial strategic investment that deploys new technology, addresses aging facilities, meets growing needs with expanded capacity, and increases our overall reliability.”
Of the 2002 capital spending, the largest share (about $41 million) will support capacity expansion work, including new or expanded electric substations, equipment upgrades on local circuits, and reconfiguration of circuits in growing communities to better balance electric distribution on the circuits.
Another roughly $30 million is targeted for preventive and corrective maintenance — a myriad of activities like patrols of the company’s 2,200 distribution circuits, equipment inspections using infrared cameras, and replacement of transformers, cables, and other facilities.
An additional $18 million is allotted for tree trimming along aerial power lines to prevent interference, especially during storms.
PECO also plans to spend about $27 million to improve system performance with dozens of projects intended to enhance service in targeted areas, including retirement of older substations, replacement of circuit breakers, and installation of more lightning arresters, circuit sectionalizers and reclosers. These devices can pinpoint and isolate trouble on the system, like vehicle accidents, animal interference or equipment failure, to reduce the number of customers affected by such incidents.
Among the larger capital projects for 2002 are: new substations to serve Center City Philadelphia, Lower Providence and Upper Providence in Montgomery County, and expanded substation facilities in Eagle, Chester County, and North Wales, Montgomery County; circuit improvements for Buckingham and vicinity in Bucks County, and improvements for the Delaware County network. The three largest vegetation management projects will be concentrated in the Croydon, Falls, and Warrington areas, all in Bucks County.
The company also expects to complete deployment early this fall of its new automated meter reading system, a three-year project that involves replacement or retrofitting all 2.1 million customer meters on the system. The AMR system will allow for more timely and accurate billing at a reduced cost, as well as better system performance data for engineering analysis.
PECO, an Exelon Company, delivers electricity to 1.52 million customers and natural gas to 442,000 customers in southeastern Pennsylvania. Based in Philadelphia, PECO and its sister utility, ComEd in the Chicago area, are subsidiaries of Exelon Energy Delivery.
Its parent, Exelon Corp., is one of the largest energy service companies in the U.S. with the largest retail utility customer base, one of the largest power generation fleets and a wholesale energy marketing operation in North America.
In 2001, PECO delivered 35.1 million megawatt hours of electricity and 81.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas, generating $3.9 billion in revenue for Exelon.